Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic
Author: Frederick Grinnell
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Scientific facts can be so complicated that only specialists in a field fully appreciate the details, but the nature of everyday practice that gives rise to these facts should be understandable by everyone interested in science. This book describes how scientists bring their own interests and passions to their work, illustrates the dynamics between researchers and the research community, and emphasizes a contextual understanding of science in place of the linear model found in textbooks with its singular focus on "scientific method." Everyday Practice of Science also introduces readers to issues about science and society. Practice requires value judgments: What should be done? Who should do it? Who should pay for it? How much? Balancing scientific opportunities with societal needs depends on appreciating both the promises and the ambiguities of science. Understanding practice informs discussions about how to manage research integrity, conflict of interest, and the challenge of modern genetics to human research ethics. Society cannot have the benefits of research without the risks. The last chapter contrasts the practices of science and religion as reflective of two different types of faith and describes a holistic framework within which they dynamically interact.
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Worries about scientific objectivity seem never-ending. Social critics and philosophers of science have argued that invocations of objectivity are often little more than attempts to boost the status of a claim, while calls for value neutrality may be used to suppress otherwise valid dissenting positions. Objectivity is used sometimes to advance democratic agendas, at other times to block them; sometimes for increasing the growth of knowledge, at others to resist it. Sandra Harding is not ready to throw out objectivity quite yet. For all of its problems, she contends that objectivity is too powerful a concept simply to abandon. In Objectivity and Diversity, Harding calls for a science that is both more epistemically adequate and socially just, a science that would ask: How are the lives of the most economically and politically vulnerable groups affected by a particular piece of research? Do they have a say in whether and how the research is done? Should empirically reliable systems of indigenous knowledge count as "real science"? Ultimately, Harding argues for a shift from the ideal of a neutral, disinterested science to one that prizes fairness and responsibility.
The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life
Author: Theodore M. Porter
Publisher: Princeton University Press
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This investigation of the overwhelming appeal of quantification in the modern world discusses the development of cultural meanings of objectivity over two centuries. How are we to account for the current prestige and power of quantitative methods? The usual answer is that quantification is seen as desirable in social and economic investigation as a result of its successes in the study of nature. Theodore Porter is not content with this. Why should the kind of success achieved in the study of stars, molecules, or cells be an attractive model for research on human societies? he asks. And, indeed, how should we understand the pervasiveness of quantification in the sciences of nature? In his view, we should look in the reverse direction: comprehending the attractions of quantification in business, government, and social research will teach us something new about its role in psychology, physics, and medicine. Drawing on a wide range of examples from the laboratory and from the worlds of accounting, insurance, cost-benefit analysis, and civil engineering, Porter shows that it is "exactly wrong" to interpret the drive for quantitative rigor as inherent somehow in the activity of science except where political and social pressures force compromise. Instead, quantification grows from attempts to develop a strategy of impersonality in response to pressures from outside. Objectivity derives its impetus from cultural contexts, quantification becoming most important where elites are weak, where private negotiation is suspect, and where trust is in short supply.
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The role of science in policymaking has gained unprecedented stature in the United States, raising questions about the place of science and scientific expertise in the democratic process. Some scientists have been given considerable epistemic authority in shaping policy on issues of great moral and cultural significance, and the politicizing of these issues has become highly contentious. Since World War II, most philosophers of science have purported the concept that science should be “value-free.” In Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal, Heather E. Douglas argues that such an ideal is neither adequate nor desirable for science. She contends that the moral responsibilities of scientists require the consideration of values even at the heart of science. She lobbies for a new ideal in which values serve an essential function throughout scientific inquiry, but where the role values play is constrained at key points, thus protecting the integrity and objectivity of science. In this vein, Douglas outlines a system for the application of values to guide scientists through points of uncertainty fraught with moral valence. Following a philosophical analysis of the historical background of science advising and the value-free ideal, Douglas defines how values should-and should not-function in science. She discusses the distinctive direct and indirect roles for values in reasoning, and outlines seven senses of objectivity, showing how each can be employed to determine the reliability of scientific claims. Douglas then uses these philosophical insights to clarify the distinction between junk science and sound science to be used in policymaking. In conclusion, she calls for greater openness on the values utilized in policymaking, and more public participation in the policymaking process, by suggesting various models for effective use of both the public and experts in key risk assessments.
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Are ghosts real? Are there truly haunted places, only haunted people, or both? And how can we know? Taking neither a credulous nor a dismissive approach, this first-of-its-kind book solves those perplexing mysteries and more-even answering the question of why we care so very much. From the most ancient times, people have experienced apparent contact with spirits of the dead. Some have awakened to see a ghost at their bedside or encountered a spectral figure gliding through a medieval castle. Others have seemingly communicated with spirits, like the Old Testament's Witch of Endor, the spiritualists whose darkroom séances provoked scientific controversy in the last two centuries, or today's "psychic mediums," like John Edward or Sylvia Browne, who seem to reach the "Other Side" even under the glare of television lights. Currently, equipment-laden ghost hunters stalk their quarry in haunted places-from urban houses to country graveyards-recording "anomalies" they insist cannot be explained. Putting aside purely romantic tales, this book examines the actual evidence for such contact-from eyewitness accounts to mediumistic productions (such as diaphanous forms materializing in dim light), spirit photographs, ghost-detection phenomena, and even CSI-type trace evidence. Offering numerous exciting case studies, this book engages in serious investigation rather than breathless mystifying. Pseudoscience, folk legends, and outright hoaxes are challenged and exposed, while the historical, cultural, and scientific aspects of ghost experiences and haunting reports are carefully explored. The author-the world's only professional paranormal investigator-brings his skills as a stage magician, private detective, folklorist, and forensic science writer to bear on a topic that demands serious study.
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This book covers some of the major contributions Sal Restivo has made to the sociology of science over the past twenty years. His work has been guided by three agendas: to develop a sociological theory of science and scientific knowledge; to use the sociology of science as a vehicle for developing a sociology of objectivity; and to explore the relationships between science, objectivity, and human values. He has tried - in his career and, specifically, in this volume - to understand science without accepting the culture of science uncritically. In his introduction, Restivo provides a view of the sociology of science from his perspective as a working sociologist of science. He sketches the sociology of science landscape and provides some preliminary indications of why a critical sociology of science is needed. Then, showing the influence of classical social theorists such as Marx, Durkheim, and Nietzsche, and later theorists such as G. H. Mead and C. W. Mills, he writes on the scientific revolution (using a human ecology approach), science and progress, the science machine (i.e., industrialized science), the anthropology of science, science policy, and epistemology. His substantive concerns lead directly to his proposal in the concluding chapter for a sociology of objectivity. In chapter 2, Restivo argues for a conception of the scientific revolution as an organizational and institutional revolution. This is crucial for understanding the author's claim in chapters 3 and 4 that modern science is a social problem, and his later claims about scientific knowledge as a social construction. There, the author begins to unfold a defense of anarchy in society and inquiry. In chapter 5, Restivo shows how his early study of visiting foreign scientists in America raised the question of ideology in science for him. He concludes the chapter by underscoring the results of the so-called "laboratory studies," in particular the suspension of a host of conventional dichotomies such as social/technical, fact/ artifact, and internal/external. Chapter 6 then examines issues of science policy and scientific validity from a sociology and anthropology of science perspective. The concept of a critical sociology of science is linked to the program for developing what Marx called a "human science." The final chapter includes a section on the sociology of mathematics, an area Restivo has pioneered in.
New Perspectives from Science and Technology Studies
Author: Flavia Padovani,Alan Richardson,Jonathan Y Tsou
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This highly multidisciplinary collection discusses an increasingly important topic among scholars in science and technology studies: objectivity in science. It features eleven essays on scientific objectivity from a variety of perspectives, including philosophy of science, history of science, and feminist philosophy. Topics addressed in the book include the nature and value of scientific objectivity, the history of objectivity, and objectivity in scientific journals and communities. Taken individually, the essays supply new methodological tools for theorizing what is valuable in the pursuit of objective knowledge and for investigating its history. The essays offer many starting points, while suggesting new avenues of research. Taken collectively, the essays exemplify the very virtues of objectivity that they theorize—in reading them together, the reader can sense various anxieties about the dangerously subjective in our age and locate commonalities of concern as well as differences of approach. As a result, the volume offers an expansive vision of a research community seeking a communal understanding of its own methods and its own epistemic anxieties, struggling to enunciate the key problems of knowledge of our time and offer insight into how to overcome them.
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A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age. This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.
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"Helen Longino has written a timely book that fills a critical gap in the existing literature between philosophy of science and the social studies of science. Her exposition of scientific inquiry as a context-laden process provides the conceptual tools we need to understand how social expectations shape the development of science while at the same time recognizing the dependence of scientific inquiry on its interactions with natural phenomena. This is an important book precisely because there is none other quite like it." --Evelyn Fox Keller, author of "Reflections on Gender and Science" Conventional wisdom has it that the sciences, properly pursued, constitute a pure, value-free method of obtaining knowledge about the natural world. In light of the social and normative dimensions of many scientific debates, Helen Longino finds that general accounts of scientific methodology cannot support this common belief. Focusing on the notion of evidence, the author argues that a methodology powerful enough to account for theories of any scope and depth is incapable of ruling out the influence of social and cultural values in the very structuring of knowledge. The objectivity of scientific inquiry can nevertheless be maintained, she proposes, by understanding scientific inquiry as a social rather than an individual process. Seeking to open a dialogue between methodologists and social critics of the sciences, Longino develops this concept of "contextual empiricism" in an analysis of research programs that have drawn criticism from feminists. Examining theories of human evolution and of prenatal hormonal determination of "gender-role" behavior, of sex differences in cognition, and of sexualorientation, the author shows how assumptions laden with social values affect the description, presentation, and interpretation of data. In particular, Longino argues that research on the hormonal basis of "sex-differentiated behavior" involves assumptions not only about gender relations but also about human action and agency. She concludes with a discussion of the relation between science, values, and ideology, based on the work of Habermas, Foucault, Keller, and Haraway.
Historical Studies of Science as If It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority
Author: Steven Shapin
Publisher: JHU Press
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Steven Shapin argues that science, for all its immense authority and power, is and always has been a human endeavor, subject to human capacities and limits. Put simply, science has never been pure. To be human is to err, and we understand science better when we recognize it as the laborious achievement of fallible, imperfect, and historically situated human beings. Shapin’s essays collected here include reflections on the historical relationships between science and common sense, between science and modernity, and between science and the moral order. They explore the relevance of physical and social settings in the making of scientific knowledge, the methods appropriate to understanding science historically, dietetics as a compelling site for historical inquiry, the identity of those who have made scientific knowledge, and the means by which science has acquired credibility and authority. This wide-ranging and intensely interdisciplinary collection by one of the most distinguished historians and sociologists of science represents some of the leading edges of change in the scholarly understanding of science over the past several decades.
Interpreting nature and society in the age of the crisis of science
Author: Paul A Komesaroff
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Originally published in 1986. This work remains of compelling interest to those concerned with the natural sciences and their social problems. It puts forward original and unorthodox ideas about the philosophy of and sociology of science, starting from the conviction that modern societies face deep problems arising from unresolved dilemmas about the meaning, content and technical applications of the theories of nature they employ. The book draws on insights developed within a variety of traditions to explore these problems, especially the work of Edmund Husserl and modern critical theory.
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Collection of essays that identify the values crucial to science, distinguish some of the criteria that can be used for value identification, and elaborate the conditions for warranting certain values as necessary or central to scientific research.
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The growing body of research on interdisciplinarity has encouraged a more in depth analysis of the relations that hold among academic disciplines. In particular, the incursion of one scientific discipline into another discipline’s traditional domain, also known as scientific imperialism, has been a matter of increasing debate. Following this trend, Scientific Imperialism aims to bring together philosophers of science and historians of science interested in the topic of scientific imperialism and, in particular, interested in the conceptual clarification, empirical identification, and normative assessment of the idea of scientific imperialism. Thus, this innovative volume has two main goals. Indeed, the authors first seek to understand interdisciplinary relations emerging from the incursion of one scientific discipline into one or more other disciplines, such as in cases in which the conventions and procedures of one discipline or field are imposed on other fields; or more weakly when a scientific discipline seeks to explain phenomena that are traditionally considered proper of another discipline’s domain. Secondly, the authors explore ways of distinguishing imperialistic from non-imperialistic interactions between disciplines and research fields. The first sustained study of scientific imperialism, this volume will appeal to postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in fields such as Science and Technology Studies, Sociology of Science & Technology, Philosophy of Science, and History of Science.
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Like fast food, fast science is quickly prepared, not particularly good, and it clogs up the system. Efforts to tackle our most pressing issues have been stymied by conflict within the scientific community and mixed messages symptomatic of a rushed approach. What is more, scientific research is being shaped by the bubbles and crashes associated with economic speculation and the market. A focus on conformism, competitiveness, opportunism and flexibility has made it extremely difficult to present cases of failure to the public, for fear that it will lose confidence in science altogether. In this bold new book, distinguished philosopher Isabelle Stengers shows that research is deeply intertwined with broader social interests, which means that science cannot race ahead in isolation but must learn instead to slow down. Stengers offers a path to an alternative science, arguing that researchers should stop seeing themselves as the 'thinking, rational brain of humanity' and refuse to allow their expertise to be used to shut down the concerns of the public, or to spread the belief that scientific progress is inevitable and will resolve all of society's problems. Rather, science must engage openly and honestly with an intelligent public and be clear about the kind of knowledge it is capable of producing. This timely and accessible book will be of great interest to students, scholars and policymakers in a wide range of fields, as well anyone concerned with the role of science and its future.
Problems of Knowledge in the Sciences of Wealth and Society
Author: Mary Poovey
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
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How did the fact become modernity's most favored unit of knowledge? How did description come to seem separable from theory in the precursors of economics and the social sciences? Mary Poovey explores these questions in A History of the Modern Fact, ranging across an astonishing array of texts and ideas from the publication of the first British manual on double-entry bookkeeping in 1588 to the institutionalization of statistics in the 1830s. She shows how the production of systematic knowledge from descriptions of observed particulars influenced government, how numerical representation became the privileged vehicle for generating useful facts, and how belief—whether figured as credit, credibility, or credulity—remained essential to the production of knowledge. Illuminating the epistemological conditions that have made modern social and economic knowledge possible, A History of the Modern Fact provides important contributions to the history of political thought, economics, science, and philosophy, as well as to literary and cultural criticism.
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Conjectures and Refutations is one of Karl Popper's most wide-ranging and popular works, notable not only for its acute insight into the way scientific knowledge grows, but also for applying those insights to politics and to history. It provides one of the clearest and most accessible statements of the fundamental idea that guided his work: not only our knowledge, but our aims and our standards, grow through an unending process of trial and error.
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The emphasis on the realm of Science, Technology and Society or Science and Technology Studies may have the same degree of relevance that the “historical turn” had in the past. It is a “social turn” which affects philosophy of science as well as philosophy of technology. It includes a new vision of the aims, processes and results of scientific activities and technological doings, because the focus of attention is on several aspects of science and technology which used to be considered as secondary, or even irrelevant. This turn highlights science and technology as social undertakings rather than intellectual contents. According to this new vision, there are several important changes as to what should be studied the objects of research, how it should be studied the method and what the consequences for those studies are. The new focus of attention can be seen in many changes, and among them are several of special interest: a) from what science and technology are in themselves (mainly, epistemic contents) to how science and technology are made (largely, social constructions); b) from the language and structure of basic science to the characteristics of applied science and the applications of science; c) from technology as a feature through which human beings control their natural surroundings (a step beyond “technics” due to the contribution of science) to technology as a social practice and an instrument of power; and d) from the role of internal values necessary for “mature science” and “innovative technology” to the role of contextual or external values (cultural, political, economic ...) of science and technology. Wenceslao J. Gonzalez is professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of A Coruña (Spain). He has been vicedean of the School of Humanities and president of the Committee of Doctoral Programs at the University. He has been a visting researcher at the Universities of St. Andrews, Münster and London (London School of Economics), as well as Visiting fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh. He has given lectures at the Universities of Pittsburgh, Stanford, Quebec and Helsinki. The conferences in which he has participated include those organized by the Universities of Uppsala, New South Wales, Bologne and Canterbury (New Zealand). He has edited 20 volumes and published 70 papers. He is the editor of the monographic issues on Philosophy and Methodology of Economics (1998) and Lakatos’s Philosophy Today (2001). His writings include “Economic Prediction and Human Activity. An Analysis of Prediction in Economics from Action Theory” (1994), “On the Theoretical Basis of Prediction in Economics” (1996), “Rationality in Economics and Scientific Predictions: A Critical Reconstruction of Bounded Rationality and its Role in Economic Predictions” (1997), “Lakatos’s Approach on Prediction and Novel Facts” (2001), “Rationality in Experimental Economics: An Analysis of R. Selten’s Approach” (2003), “From ErklärenVerstehen to PredictionUnderstanding: The Methodological Framework in Economics” (2003), and “The Many Faces of Popper’s Methodological Approach to Prediction” (2004).
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The sociology of science is dominated today by relativists who boldly argue that the content of science is not influenced by evidence from the empirical world but is instead socially constructed in the laboratory. Making Science is the first serious critique by a sociologist of the social constructivist position. Stephen Cole begins by making a distinction between two kinds of knowledge: the core, which consists of those contributions that have passed the test of evaluation and are universally accepted as true and important, and the research frontier, which is composed of all work in progress that is still under evaluation. Of the thousands of scientific contributions made each year, only a handful end up in the core. What distinguishes those that are successful? Agreeing with the constructivists, Cole argues that there exists no set of rules that enables scientists to certify the validity of frontier knowledge. This knowledge is "underdetermined" by the evidence, and therefore social factors--such as professional characteristics and intellectual authority--can and do play a crucial role in its evaluation. But Cole parts company with the constructivists when he asserts that it is impossible to understand which frontier knowledge wins a place in the core without first considering the cognitive characteristics of the contributions. He concludes that although the focus of scientific research, the rate of advance, and indeed the everyday making of science are influenced by social variables and processes, the content of the core of science is constrained by nature. In Making Science, Cole shows how social variables and cognitive variables interact in the evaluation of frontier knowledge.